We’re all tough guys/gals here, right? We work through achy joints and old injuries, we push ourselves past old limits, and when we get hurt, we push through that too. If you’re anything like me, you probably derive some level of pride from your ability to withstand punishment, your willingness to work through the hurt, to lean on discipline in times of weakness …
… and I’m going to level with you, it’s sort of a problem.
When I was young, injuries, even ones that threatened my future, were romantic inconveniences — an obstacle for me to overcome. After all, what’s a story without a challenge, right? But as I got older, the ways my body recovers from injury have changed. For some injuries, getting back to 100% is a biological impossibility (at least with current medical science), making injuries like my back and knees something different than a challenge I can simply move past. I’m going to have these problems for the rest of my life — that’s not an obstacle, that’s just who I am now.
Despite understanding and appreciating the ways injury can have reverberating repercussions throughout my remaining decades, I can’t help but approach self-care in much the same way I did as a young athlete that, by comparison, seemed to heal like Wolverine. I avoid the doctor by using bullshit excuses like, “I’ve done this all before, I already know what he’s going to say,” or, “there’s nothing he can do about this old injury anyway.” Mind you, I’m not without justification when it comes to not wanting to go to the doctor. I’ve had surgeries go wrong, I’ve had symptoms ignored, and I watched my father lose his grip on life (by way of serious stroke) when a surgeon made a simple mistake in what was supposed to be an outpatient procedure. Doctors make mistakes, get complacent, and sometimes just plain old suck but they’re also the only folks that can keep us in the fight sometimes.